The year I got married, I was on the third portrait in a series called 30 something. It was a self-portrait series where every year during the decade of my 30s, I would create a self-portrait. The idea for this project came from my mother. My mother had once asked me on my 11th birthday, what I thought would be my favorite age. I replied, “something 30” (She was in her 30s at the time, as was my father, so I am not sure if that had any influence on my answer, or if it was because 3 was my lucky number, my birthday is 3/13, or because I am the oldest of 3 children, or if it was because I was being raised Roman Catholic, which, with the holy trinity, made 3 a very lucky number.)
Years later when I actually turned 30 however, it was the worst year of my life up until that point. So, similarly to this project, I turned to art making to fill the void, and thus the project 30 Something was born.
At 32, I met the man who was to be my husband. At 33, we were married. That year’s self-portrait was a sculpture. I wanted to show how I was planting a firm foundation for the rest of my life, so I constructed a piece that had a photo of my bare feet in soil, placed it in a Plexiglas box with a block of concrete on top, and a wooden frame encased in Plexiglas on the top of the concrete block.
For STATE OF THE UNION, The first piece of art to arrive on the day of delivery was a piece by Chad Marth. Chad’s work uses American hunting culture as it’s source, and he often uses common building materials to construct his pieces. Most of his work is sculptural and the piece he delivered for this project was indeed a sculpture. It took my breath away. It had a block of concrete as its base the exact same size as my 33 self-portrait had. It also had wood as a base and framed on top. And, it contained one dozen handmade wooden flowers.
To the best of my knowledge Chad had not seen my 33 sculpture, and when I asked him about it ,he said that he didn’t know of that work. To me, his sculpture was a perfect companion to my earlier work. When I put the pieces side by side, it appeared as if those wooden flowers, whose material had once been part of a live and growing tree, had grown from the fertile soil under my feet. A beautiful, yet dead, product of my sowing.